Saturday, October 20, 2007


We participated in a cooking class last night at the local L'Academie de Cuisine and it was Oktoberfest in the kitchen. Our menu consisted of onion tarts, potato pancakes, sweet and sour kraut, chicken schnitzel, bratwurst, and German chocolate cake with homemade cherry ice cream. Our instructor hails from Wisconsin and he was full of useful information and demonstrated how to dice an onion, which is something I struggle with.

We were divided into groups of three or four and then we discussed which menu item we would like to make. I decided to make the schnitzel and Mike made the potato pancakes and stuffed the bratwurst meat into the casings. Our table mates made the chocolate cake and the kraut. Because it was too time-consuming, the instructor and classroom volunteers made the rest of the menu items.

My first job was to chop the chicken into small chunks and then flatten each piece. I used the back of my fry pan to give them a good whack, but Mike took over because I wasn't hitting them hard enough. I took over his dish while he smacked my chicken around. Then I had to wait in line behind slow people who delicately dipped their chicken one piece at a time in the flour, egg, and bread crumb mixture. I thought we'd be there all night just for the chicken! I was much quicker as I dumped all my chicken into the flour and then got on with the rest of the process. I was finally able to actually cook my chicken and each piece came out with a lovely golden brown color.

The pots of cooking food gave off an amazing aroma of flavorful foods that we couldn't wait to eat. When it was finally time, we all dug in and the food was amazing. I could easily see myself replicating almost all of the dishes except the bratwurst because I don't have a sausage maker at home. The sweet and saur kraut was delicious and very different because the cranberry, chopped onion, and apple gave it a slightly sweeter taste without the sharp bite of typical sauerkraut. The schnitzel was very tasty and I ate it German-style with squeezed lemon juice on top. The potato pancakes were very good with bits of parsley and onion throughout. The best part was the cake and ice cream. It was a very good night. I'd like to take another class, but it will have to wait as most of their classes through December are already full.

I'm leaving momentarily for the Light the Night walk. It rained hard last night, but it's looking very good weather-wise for tonight. I'm looking forward to the walk and the Hard Times chili afterwards!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Doctor, Doctor!

I almost took a trip to the emergency room last night: I had a sore throat all day that got worse last night. After work I went to my parent's house to clean (so Mike could get into the master bathroom to finish it after Michael stopped in the middle of remodeling it) and their house is very dusty. I felt a little worse after being there for nearly two hours, but not that bad so I went to my water aerobics class. As soon as I got in the water, I felt a searing pain in my throat and it was difficult to breathe. I did one lap around the pool, but decided to get out. I sat on the side and watched Melissa finish class and hoped the pain would go away, but it didn't. The pain was unusual in that it hurt to inhale but not exhale, and I didn't have shortness of breath. It was definitely in my throat and not in my chest.

One of my fellow classmates is a doctor and he suggested I call my doctor right away and not wait until morning. Melissa followed me home and I called NIH because I don't know who to contact anymore since I'm not officially a patient anymore. I was interviewed the nurse on-call and she was a little grumpy about whether or not I should go to the ER, but she took my number for the doctor on-call to call me. The doctor on-call interviewed me and said I could wait to go to my primary care physician for a throat culture because he said I didn't sound that terrible on the phone (my breathing was normal and I wasn't having trouble swallowing).

I felt better this morning, but called my doctor anyway and scheduled an appointment for today. Dr. O'Connor took a throat culture (boy, that was fun having a cotton swab shoved down my throat) and the preliminary in-office results were negative for strep throat, but she is sending the other swab out for testing. She didn't think it would be strep, but it could be allergies and a combination of the dust and the pool may have caused a reaction. Since my immune system is weak, any minor cold or allergy will be blown significantly out of proportion. I'm supposed to keep an eye on things and call if I get worse.

Mike also joined me at the doctor's office because his ankle has been swollen for several weeks and he saw an orthopedic doctor on Friday who recommended he get a Lyme disease test just to rule that out. His doctor took x-rays and didn't see anything that could be causing his ankle to swell, but a symptom of Lyme disease could be swollen ankles. Dr. O'Connor wrote orders for his lab work but didn't think it's Lyme disease. She thinks he may have re-aggravated an old injury from years ago and it's just reappearing now. I just hope it goes away soon because he hasn't been able to play volleyball as much. My ankle (from my sprain last week) is still sore, but it's getting better. Mike and I make a great couple right now - two swollen ankles!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Light the Night

October is breast cancer awareness month and I'm jealous that breast cancer gets its own month, a pretty pink ribbon, and lots of national attention. Not many people know about non-hodgkins lymphoma and I would have preferred not to have such intimate knowledge of the subject, but unfortunately I do and that's that. I may not have my own month or a pretty ribbon, but the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has a Light the Night Walk and it's this Saturday, October 20th at the Rockville Town Center.

It's a two-mile twilight walk during which participants carry illuminated balloons to celebrate and commemorate lives touched by blood cancer (leukemia and lymphomas). Supporters carry red balloons, patients and survivors carry white balloons while gold balloons commemorate lives lost to cancer. Together, they "light the night" and truly brighten the future for millions of patients and their families.

Check in for the Walk begins at 5:30pm, the stage program will start at 6:45pm and the Walk will begin promptly at 7:00pm. I'm meeting the Jaycees and my family at 5:15 in front of the movie theater. If you live close by, you're welcome to join us.

To join my team:
1. Go to the website:
2. Select Join Team
3. Search by Team Name: AM Victory or Team Captain: Janice Erickson (my mom)
4. Register

To make a donation, go to my website:

Your support means a lot to me and to many others. Thank you.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Twist and Shout

Today is holiday for me, but I had to work from home on a writing assignment that's due tomorrow by close of business. I took a break this afternoon to work out with my personal trainer, or actually Ludmilla, the new physical therapist because my regular trainer, Tom, took today off. I was doing pretty good and even added jumping jacks and bunny hops to my repertoire, even though I couldn't jump very well. Disaster struck on the hurdles. Mind you, I wasn't jumping any hurdles but I was walking over each one. As I was lifting my leg over a hurdle, my heel caught on the edge and I started falling. Since my balance is not very good I couldn't right myself and I kept on going, knocking down two more hurdles in the process and twisting my ankle. The pain was excruciating and she quickly put ice on my ankle and had me elevate my leg. Another physical therapist was there and he did a quick assessment to make sure I hadn't fractured anything. I didn't feel anything pop when I went down, but I definitely twisted it good.

It's almost 10pm now and my ankle still hurts - a lot. I've been icing and elevating my leg off and on all day. It's hard to tell how bad it is because my ankles have already been swollen for weeks, although my left ankle is a bit more swollen than my right ankle. I called NIH today anyway and left a message because of the fact that my ankles have been swollen for so long and the bottom of my feet feel numb too. Spraining my ankle today is just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Check out those pearly whites

I'd been noticing that my teeth were discolored and yellowish looking and I thought it was yet another chemo side effect that I was going to have to deal with at some point. I didn't know if I could make it go away or not. I saw the dentist today and she took one look and thought she could scrape it away. Lo and behold, she did! I've never been so happy to see my dentist.

I grabbed dinner with a friend before her volleyball game with Mike. Theresa's mom had breast cancer some time ago and I've met her mom on several occasions. Her mom's having some health problems recently and found a lump in her other breast, in her throat, and in her liver. Theresa's understandably worried and stressed so I wanted to have dinner just to see how she's doing. Theresa asked if I had joined a support group, which I haven't done yet. I met someone who belongs to a breast cancer support group and invited me to join them on their next dinner outing. I asked if it mattered that I didn't have breast cancer, and it doesn't so I may join them. I invited Theresa and her mom to come too. Theresa should also look for a caregivers support group and I'll check through some of my resources to see if I can find her something.

Hearing all of these cancer stories makes me sad. I feel so helpless and I wish there was something I could actually do. For now I will listen to their stories and offer as much comfort as I possibly can. I wish I could do more.